I declare….

….. MTB season to be officially open in Potsdam!

Wednesday I did a wicked hard workout. 12x 3o second all out intervals. When I was finished, I felt good, not at all blown. Thursday morning was a different matter. When I got to work and climbed up the stairs… Wow. Dead legs. I was glad that Thursday’s workout was: recovery ride 30 minutes, easy.

Over the past 7 days we have lost most of our snow. I decided it was time to go see what kind of condition the trails were in. I figured they were going to be rough and so I would be forced to ride easy on them.

The good news…. The trails had no snow on them. Yeah!

The bad news….. While there was no snow on the trails, there sure was a lot of blown down.

It was a slow ride. I had to pause a couple of times to move trees off the trail. Not the kind of trees you could ride over. The tops of trees. You know with all the little branches. Along with the trees there were a lot of limbs, big ones, small ones. Ones that kick up when you ride over them and impale your legs (yeah, first blood drawn!) or stick into the drive train of your bike (no damage to the bike).

It was also one of the best rides I have had in a long time.

Ghetto Conversion

Most mountain bikers ride with tubeless tires. Taking the tube out of your tire tends to reduced the number of pinch flats you get and allows you to run a lower tire pressures. That’s nice because you have more tire in contact with the ground and you tend to get better traction when you are riding.

The drawback to tuebless tires is that you have to have a tire/rim combination that seals so that the air cannot escape (I still hear Dory’s voice with that word “Escape’ “). That means you need to have special rim tape that seals the spoke holes in the rim and most often you need to add a liquid sealant to the tire to get a good seal. The sealant also has the added benefit of sealing up punctures (also reducing the number of flat tires you might encounter).

I have two sets of rims for my mountain bike. One are made for tubless tires (Stan’s ZT Arch) and the others are made for tubed tires (Easton XC700). And when I got this bike I set the tubeless rims up with tubeless tires. But over the winter I wanted to make the tube rims tubeless.

Stan’s has been the “industry leader” in doing tubeless set-ups. They make a conversion kit that has all the pieces you need in it to do the conversion. But it’s kind of expensive, and being a tinkerer I wondered if you could do this on your own. Turn’s out you can.

If you use “the Google” and do a search you will find that people have come up with what they call “Ghetto” conversions.

Here is what you need:

Rim Tape…. well you can go and buy precut special rim tape to do that job. OR you can get yourself some Gorilla Tape. Gorilla Tape is like supper duct tape. Think Jeremiah Bishop versus me. I am pretty good, Jeremiah Bishop is so much better. As a bonus Gorilla tape comes in some precut widths. 1″ being one of those. Down to the local hardware store. One roll will last a lifetime (or can be used for other things and so is a multi-tasking purchase).

rim_tape-1

Sealant…. Stan’s sealant is a mixture of natural latex and some stuff to keep it liquid (latex wants to dry out, that’s why it makes a good sealant). They also put some other stuff in there to plug holes. But essentially it’s latex. When you go to the Google you will find recipes for homemade Stans. It is made up of 1 part latex molding liquid, 1 part green tire slime and 2 parts RV antifreeze (the stuff you would winterize the water system of an RV with). The molding liquid is the latex, the green slime helps to seal and has the little particles in it, and the RV antifreeze keeps the mixture from drying out. The molding liquid is the expensive part of this mixture. I used this stuff, because it was recommended, but there may be other options out there. Even given the expense on the molding latex, this was about 1/3 the cost of buying Stans.

sealant-1

Tubless Valves…. Here I bought official valves. I suspect that you could take a valve from an old tube and cut it out to use. But  they were not too expensive, so a splurged.

So I mixed up the sealant, taped the rims and installed the valves.

tires_rims-1

The hardest part of the process was getting the tires to seat on the rims. The real problem with the rims not intended for tubeless tires is that there is a lot of space between the tire and rim. When you place a tube in there the air is contained by the tube which inflates and pushes the tire bead into the rim. With the tubeless set-up you need to have enough of a seal, and enough airflow to get the tire to seat so you can fill it up all the way.

That was tricky. I ended up painting a little bit of the sealant onto the rims and letting it dry just a little bit. That made the rim sticky. I was able to get enough of a seal that I could inflate the tires. I put them up to 60 psi. The sealant then comes out the little places that are not well sealed and like magic you get a tubeless rim/tire.

Once it set for a while I dropped the pressure down to 22 psi for riding.

The tires are holding air just fine. I’ve ridden them a little bit on dirt road without any problems. The trails should be cleared of snow today and so I am going to ride some singletrack for the first time this season tonight. Excited to see how the new tires (Kenda Honeybadgers) and the tubless conversion work.

Yeah, I could have taken my tires to the LBS to get this done. But it was a fun little project.

2014 Race #1: Forever Speed

Jill Homer has been talking a lot about finding her “forever speed”. She does a lot of long distance biking and running races. The “forever speed” is the speed you can go at, well, forever. It’s the speed you spin at effortlessly. It’s not really the “out with the kids” speed, no it’s a real race speed. But it’s a magical speed. There have been times when I have found my forever speed. And when I find my forever speed I have also find flow. The state at which things become “perfect” and I am totally in the moment. I experienced that twice at Leadville. Climbing Sugarloaf (my favorite climb of the race) and actually when I was climbing Columbine.

That’s one of the reasons I love racing/riding long distances.

But some days are NOT for the forever speed. Some days are for the “go as hard as you can and see if you blow up” speed.

Originally I was going to go to Connecticut to race in the Root 66 Series opener at Hop Brook Dam. The logistics got complicated and we decided to stay home. What’s to be done then? I mean my training schedule has a race day on it and I was all prepped to race. Clearly I needed to figure something out. OK, how about putting on my own little race?

Two hours around the block. Time for a little personal time trial race.

My house sits on a dirt road. There is a nice little 6.4 mile figure 8 loop I can do. The dirt is marred by enough pot holes right now to make it virtually undrivable with a car in places. So it’s a little more exciting than a typical day on a two track road. Spring is in full swing and it was actually in the 70′s yesterday (70 feels hot after 6 months below freezing!). The forecast rain did not materialized. Perfect.

This loop isn’t really flat and it isn’t really hilly either. It has 4 or 5 punchy 15% grade short climbs, a fast short down hill, and a longer 4-5% grade uphill section. In all there is about 400 ft of climb for each lap. I would characterize it as one of those “you never really get to recover” loops.

dirt_TT_elevation

On a normal day, at a normal pace, I can usually cover this loop in about 26 minutes. I set out on my first lap.

The first half mile is pretty flat but leads to a nice 90 ft 12% punch. Up on the pedals to keep the all important momentum up the hill. A screaming fast down the back side. A little rest on a flat section to a small, keep you momentum, punch past the house with the nice German Sheppard. Onto a little pavement past the kids who always say “nice bike” when I go past. Back onto dirt and up a short but steep (18%) bump. Down a little and up a half mile sustained moderate climb past the Giffin Rd Maple Company. Back down the screamer (its a figure 8 so I hit that one twice). Then a mile long 4% climb past the place where the house that was a Speak Easy during prohibition used to sit. Down some pavement right hand turn to my house.

Time: 21 minutes, 39 seconds. Average speed: 17.7 mph.

Lap 2 pretty much a carbon copy. Well the course WAS a carbon copy and I was a second faster 21:38.

Lap 3 was when I got to experience the “you are not at your forever speed” realization and things began to hurt. The uphills became just a little harder, the downhills became just a little bit shorter. Time: 22:09.

During lap 4 I began to debate how long this race should last. It was MY race after all and all of this was self induced. I had two hours and had planned originally on doing 4 laps (based on how long it usually to me to do the loop). Now it was clear I could get a 5th lap in under the two hour time limit. But how long was my race? Was it 4 laps or was it 2 hours?

Doug: “Man these climbs suck and hurt. Honey Stinger gel. Yum. That’s good. I am almost out of CarboRocket 333.”

Yeti: “Meat, shut up and do a 5th lap, its a 2 hour race.”

Past my house. 22:30.

My 5th lap actually felt faster than the 4th. I worked harder. Stood more on the gut punches. Tucked lower on the down hills. Still the average speed on the gps ticked down. Past my house 22:44.

I finished in 1:50:48 with an average speed of 17.3 mph. Average Heart Rate 146, peak 159.

Oh and I won the race. ;)

Too my friends at: Playful Life, Not So Wild, Jenni Blog 2.0, and Pavements Edge. If you have not stumbled across Jill Homer’s blog you should. You would appreciate her.

Picture of the Day

vortex-1

“Snow Melt”

 

Staying Positive

Well it’s been a lame week on my end blog wise. Sorry. I have been in B-spline hell courtesy of the luge project I am working on. But I think I emerged from there this morning.

As I have whined about, the spring has been late in coming up here in the North Country. One serious consequence of that is that the high school mtb team organization is way behind where I had thought we would be at this point. You see kids who are interested in riding and racing mtb’s don’t want to go to meetings, they want to actually ride their bikes. Go figure.

The New York League of NICA was supposed to have their first race last weekend (cancelled due to rain). We still had over a foot of snow on the ground up here and had yet to actually get on our bikes. So as of right now I don’t know how many kids will ultimately be doing this or what kind of riders they are. I know I have some complete newbies interested. And that’s great but its also hard to assess where they are at and if they can participate in a race at this point.

The weather finally broke and we have been melting snow like mad. But we are still probably 2 weeks away from having any ridable trails around here. The weather looked good this week so I called the first practice to do some drills. I figured it would be fun to meet, do some biking and practice some biking skills.

It was me, my son, another kid (who is a good rider) and the other 3 adults who are helping. A student to faculty ratio of 0.5. In all fairness I heard back from one young lady (the really new person) that she was going to be in CA on vacation (spring break next week for the schools). And two others had conflicts. Still it was somewhat disappointing.

We all had fun. Snow banks make great obstacles to bike over. And they provide the extra excitement of sometimes being soft, and sometimes being hard. You never know if you are going over or through :)

I expect that in two weeks when the kids come back from spring break we will have ridable trails. We should be able to get out then and have some fun. I am trusting that it will pick up once we can do that.

So we are still behind. There is a race this weekend and then one on the 27th. The race on the 27th was the one I had wanted to go to. It’s the closest to us. But I am not comfortable taking kids to a race who I don’t know skill wise and have not seen bike for myself.

On a brighter note. We do have a 1st pass at team jerseys.

mtb_team_jersey

I am using Jakroo. They seem easy to work with so far. I will let you know how they turn out. Now if only I could get in touch with the kids to show them……

April 4

It should be the time to seriously transition from luge to bike. The luge season is officially done. I have changed my Facebook picture from full length spandex to spandex shorts and a biking jersey. Yup, its time to hit the trails for sure. But it still feels a lot like winter around here. The temperature have moderated into the 40′s for highs, but we still have over a foot of snow on the ground in most places. It’s probably going to be 3 more weeks before our trails are open enough to ride. AND my California biking friends keep sending me pictures that are lacking snow and full of sunshine. I may go crazy soon.

Today’s workout was a leg burner. Here my wake up email from my friend Drew:

” Your Workouts for Friday, April 04

#1:  30/30′s plus 2-3 x sub LT 10 min.
Type: Bike
Planned Duration: 2:00 
Description: Warm up 20-30 minutes spinning.
Then perform 2 x 8 minutes of the following:
30 seconds at 150% FTP (if you have power; if not, this should be a pace that is hard, but also something you can hold for all the efforts during the intervals)
30 seconds easy
Repeat this sequence throughout the entire 8 minute efforts. Then recover 5 minutes between efforts. (meaning 8 of these total per set)
After the last 8 minute effort, take 10 minutes recovery. Then perform 2 x 10 minute efforts at 86-95% FTP or building from zone 3 to zones 4-5 for HR by the end of each effort. Take 3 minutes rest between these.
Great hard day. Push it! Be positive and talk yourself through these efforts. Never give up!”

Another great day to be inside on a bike.

I did take the opportunity to fix a little problem I have had all of my life. I’ve never seen the movie Breaking Away. Go figure. Not sure how that one slipped past me. So I streamed it during my work out (yeah Amazon Prime!) All in all it was a good movie (though I do not think I got to 60 mph during my ride….)

Still trying to figure out how I am going to approach tomorrow’s workout:

” Your Workouts for Saturday, April 05

#1:  Moderate off road with technical work
Type: Bike
Planned Duration: 1:30 
Description: Ride Zones 1-3 off road. During today’s ride, pick sections of the trail you find challenging technically, and attempt to do them. Repeat the process until you are comfortable with each section. Try to keep most of the time in Zones 2-3, but it’s ok to go into Zones 4-5 on the tougher sections. “

I’m not comfortable on any of the off road stuff right now given all of the ice that’s on it. Oh well, one step at a time. At least it’s above freezing.

Monday Morning Slider: The End of the Season

Did you like how I didn’t write a post on Monday like I normally do? You were probably wondering what happened given the whole how am I going to end my luge season thing. You probably were wondering if I did it, or given the silence here if I crashed and burned.

It turned out to be a non issue. I had gotten to the track and was going to go for it. But there were some concerns expressed by the track (general not specific). We respected those concerns and none of the club sliders went up to women’s start. The sliding? Well it ended up being a rather anti-climatic end to the season. The track was slow and frosty. I put down two runs and called it a season.

The best part of the night was we had several new sliders again. One awesome brave very young girl. I know here mom from home and had heard she wanted to slide.

“Bring her up!”

“She’s small.”

“That’s OK”

Well….. she was SMALL. Probably 40 lbs, soaking wet. But we gave her some instruction and sent her off to tourist start. After my second run I went up to the tourist start to see how things were going with the newbies. I saw the little girl’s mom and asked how her first run went.

“She crashed.”

“Really? Is she ok?”

Crash was a bit of an exaggeration. She touched some walls in the chicane. Lost what little momentum she had (remember I said small :) ) and came to a stop.

I talked with her a little bit and she was pumped to head down the track again. Same result.

She was a little annoyed when she got back up to the start ramp for a third try. We had a heart to heart.

“You are small. I have a small son who is just like you. Ask you mom. She knows Noah. It’s not your fault. Are you having fun?”

“Yes!”

“Do you want to go again?”

“Yes!”

I gave her a luge fist bump.

“Do you know why we fist bump?”

“Because you have claws on when you slide.”

“You got it!”

I had to leave before her third run to get the other people back to the sled shed and so I missed her run.

When they came back down to the sled shed…..

“Well????”

“I did it!”

Fist bumps all around. A fearless little one!

The club guru was working with the new people. He said a rousing cheer when up when she made it to the finish. At dinner we were chatting. Matt our tracker worker club member said the track guys were in finish watching the little one slide on the video. And every time she went they were cheering her on. Nice.

Her mom wants to slide too. I think we have a new luge family in the family. Now she just needs to put a little size on before fall! ;)

Uh oh (Part 2)

There is something I didn’t share about my day of luge last weekend. It really wasn’t much. Just a couple of sentences. About 30 second of my 14 hour luge day. And yet…….

We were putting our equipment away and Jim (the club guru) and I were chatting about the upcoming weekend. It’s our last session of the year. We are opening it up to everyone who wants to slide (usually we limit the numbers so that we can get at least 4 runs in) and so its going to be a last night to spend time with our winter friends.

Jim: “I am going to take some people up to women’s start next weekend. It’s time.”

Doug: “OK. Who?”

Jim: “You are on that list.”

Doug:

Jim: “You should see the look on your face its priceless.”

And so began what has been a truly interesting week between luge sessions.

OK so here is the deal. The tourist start, where people first slide is about 35 mph. The junior start, where I slide, about 55 mph. Women’s start, where Olympic Bronze medalist Erin Hamlin slides, about 70 mph. The game changes at each one and so do the stakes.

Question 1. Do you actually want to luge from the women’s start?

I had been harboring this secret plan. Next year focus on the Masters race and getting fast for that. THEN once that was finished see about moving up to the women’s start. Jim has definitely upset that little plan.

Question 2. Do you want to do it this week?

That’s more difficult to answer. I have these two voices in my brain. One says yes, the other says no.

The yes one says: “You have had a great season and are in good control of your sled. You sliding has really come around. Its going to be warm and rainy (meaning the ice will be slow). It’s a good time.”

The no one says: “You still have a tendency to tense up and when you do your form gets bad. That’s not a good combination when you are going 70 mph. You need to fix that first.” This no voice is coming about largely because I was sloppy last week, and it bothered me. And probably because I have this strong sense of self preservation.

I am not sure if the “no” voice is smart or chicken.

It’s going to be an interesting day.

Authors Note: I suspect Jim sprang that little gem on me last week to get the F.U. reaction out of the way……..which I guess it did.